The Irish Times reports €2m profit amid challenging market

Publisher improved digital revenues and implemented cost-saving measures in 2017

Operating profit at The Irish Times DAC improved 143 per cent in 2017. Photograph: David Sleator

Operating profit at The Irish Times DAC improved 143 per cent in 2017. Photograph: David Sleator

 

The Irish Times DAC, the publisher of this newspaper, returned to profitability last year as a result of increased digital revenues and the implementation of cost-saving initiatives.

Accounts just filed show a profit before tax at the group, which includes the leading property website myhome.ie, increased to €2.03 million in the year ended December 2017. This compared with a pretax loss of €1.25 million in 2016.

Revenue fell by just over 5 per cent to €77.9 million, reflecting continuing challenges connected with declines in print circulation and related advertising.

“The group performed well in 2017 with continued development of the digital revenue base and the implementation of cost-saving initiatives during the year,” the directors said in their business review.

“Revenues from consumer content grew by 1.6 per cent with advertising revenue falling by 11.9 per cent. Digital revenue showed further growth of 8.7 per cent with subscriber numbers of 68,078 at year end.”

In December 2017 the company agreed to acquire all of the publishing and media interests of the Cork-based Landmark Media Group, including the Irish Examiner newspaper.

This deal closed earlier this week after approvals were received from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland and Minister for Communications Denis Naughten.

Professional fees associated with the Landmark acquisition of just under €700,000 were said to be a “key factor” in the company’s exceptional items of €800,000 last year.

Daily sales

The Irish Times had combined average daily sales of 77,988 copies for its print and ePaper editions in the second half of 2017, according to figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations. This was up 331 copies on the first half of last year, as growth in the audited digital edition exceeded the loss of print sales.

The average print circulation of The Irish Times from July to December was 61,049, which was almost 8 per cent lower than in the same period in 2016.

The Irish Times DAC’s operational costs fell 10 per cent in 2017 to €18.2 million, and it reported an operating profit of €2.48 million, up 143 per cent on the prior year.

The group employed 437 people in 2017, down from 455 the previous year, with wage and salary costs declining 1.9 per cent to €29.8 million.

“The company strategy is continually focused on sustainable profitability with investment in compelling and distinctive journalism from The Irish Times. Organisational changes are continuing to enable the company to adapt to the changing market for news media consumption and to facilitate audience and revenue growth,” the directors report said.